V/A :: Underground Wave Volume 5 (Walhalla)

Packed with variety, as was the Belgian scene of the 1980s. A spread of weird and wonderful styles are explored. Dense dark bitterness, minimal malaise and even some smiling silliness in this treasure trove.

V/A :: Underground Belgian Wave 5 (Walhalla)

Walhalla seems to be the antithesis of other reissue labels. How so? There are those that pour out records, rivers of releases flowing like rapids. Antwerp’s Walhalla is more of a trickle, one to two LPs per year. But, from my experience, they are worth the wait.

As ever with previous installments of the Underground Belgian Wave series, this latest compilation is a veritable continental breakfast of unknown delights. There’s a devil-may-care attitude running through the selection, but there’s also a dancefloor element. Tracks are short, but BPM’s are DJ friendly. There’s a touch more EBM to the LP as well, offering a different angle on the Belgium sound. 7 A Nou’s “Victims” or Schicksal’s “Deceived” may be brief, but they are brimming with intensity. But fear not, there is of course a good helping of post-punk experimentation on here, Nacht Und Nebel and Dead Man Industry delivering the goods.

Many tracks are soaked in loneliness. One man bands giving their solitude voice with basic rhythms and synths. RDP’s “So You” is emblematic of this, cold vocals over colder chords. Beast Implosion’s “Galoppin’ Gertie” is a similarly melancholic affair, bittersweet bars and fuzz spilled atop a chopped tale of equine tragedy. Equine what? Yup. And there is humor on here, perhaps summed up in Man Without World’s “All Nymphs Are Volcanic.” There are even moments of spirited cheer. No Unauthorized serve up the bright eye “J’Attends” with Vita Noctis later arriving with the breathy “Hymn.”

What I’m getting at is that this record is packed with variety, as was the Belgian scene of the 1980s. A spread of weird and wonderful styles are explored. Dense dark bitterness, minimal malaise and even some smiling silliness in this treasure trove.

Underground Belgian Wave 5 is available on Walhalla.

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